Tacker wants conviction tossed out, new trial ordered

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Former biofuels businessman William T. “Tommy” Tacker II asked a federal appeals court to throw out his conviction and order a new trial.
Tacker, 58 of Okolona, was convicted in February 2010 on 10 counts that he conspired to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture of nearly $3 million for his company, Biodiesel of Mississippi Inc. of Nettleton.
His three-day trial was held in Aberdeen before Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson.
Sept. 30, Tacker began serving a 60-month prison sentence in Montgomery, Ala.
Friday, Tacker’s appeals attorneys, Oliver E. Diaz Jr. and David Neil McCarty of Jackson, asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate his conviction and, at the least, grant a new trial.
They base their appeal on three reasons – inadequate jury instruction, double hearsay testimony and insufficient evidence to convict him.
During the trial, the government’s star witness was Tacker’s business partner, Max Speight of Tennessee, who got a plea deal by agreeing to testify against Tacker.
Speight, now serving his 26-month sentence in Indiana, repeatedly admitted his guilt and that he forged Tacker’s signature to USDA documents associated with the subsidy scheme.
Prior to his testimony, Speight was disbarred as a lawyer and convicted of stealing more than $1 million from clients to fund money short-falls for BMI.
The appeal insists that the jury should have been cautioned to weigh Speight’s testimony more carefully than an ordinary witness.
The government’s next step is to reply to the appeal brief.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.